Forbidden Root was contacted by the Homebrewers Pride of the South Side (HOPS) in April. In reality, it was our brewer Phil Zelewsky, a long-time friend of the organization, who was contacted and arranged a meeting. Phil goes way back with HOPS. The homebrewers reaching out to Forbidden Root, Al Nichols and Tommy Saldana, are a few of his buddies.
HOPS reached out to see if Forbidden Root was interested in participating in their annual Maifest celebration. Every year the gathering features 20 homebrews created by members of their club, a massive spread of home-cooked food, and a few brews donated by professional sponsors.
Beyond the typical donation, HOPS had a bigger ask: that brewers Nick and Phil would judge the competition and brew the winning beer on Forbidden Root's 15-barrel system.
It's safe to say that most professional brewers start making beer first as a hobby, just like the members of HOPS. Various stages of hobbyism, from casual to social to near obsession unfold until some are left signing up for the Siebel Academy or making a Kickstarter to fund their dream brewery.
As a professional brewery, hosting an amateur for a brew day is reinvigorating. It closes the loop between the excited determination of a homebrewer and the everyday grind of a professional, allowing both to come together over the mash tun and share their passion for the craft.
So when the opportunity arose, Forbidden Root enthusiastically accepted.
The crew had a blast at Maifest when the day came. Freshly grilled bratwursts, homemade potato salad and well-crafted homebrews were present in abundance. When judgement duties called, Nick and Phil chose their favorite of the top 3 people's choice nominations. The winning beer was Al Nichol's Da Da Dortmunder, a German-style Lager. It is a well known truth that these brewers prefer a lager at the end of the day more than any other style, so the choice to brew Al's Dortmunder was a clear one.
A few months later, Al's recipe was added into the rotation at Forbidden Root. Even on a 90 degree day in August, the joy of coming together to make the Dortmunder won the day. "Nick and Phil are fun guys, I can’t downplay that. It was hotter than hell and we still had a great time," said Al when we asked him about brewday.
"As a hobby I really enjoyed getting into homebrewing; the comraderie (with HOPS) is a big part of why I still brew, aside from that it's just a fun thing to do! Brewing the Dortmunder was great, because I got to know brewing on a much bigger scale."
Today Da Da Dortmunder graces the Forbidden Root beer board. An instant favorite of the staff, the brew is easy drinking, crisp, and perfect for the end of a hard work day. It may not be the flashiest collaboration, or even the best the brewers will make. Even so, we're proud to serve a brew that closes the loop between hobby and profession, and celebrates the comraderie of beer making.